Do we really know the Good Shepherd?

A recent talk by Martin Jalleh, at the Church of St Ignatius (SIC), left a deep impact on attendees, many of whom expressed heartfelt appreciation for the insights shared.

Jul 05, 2024

Martin Jalleh (front row, fifth from left) with the participants who attended his talk on ‘Pressing on in Faith, Fortitude & Freedom with the Good Shepherd’ at the Church of St Ignatius.

By Percey Chiew
A recent talk by Martin Jalleh, at the Church of St Ignatius (SIC), left a deep impact on attendees, many of whom expressed heartfelt appreciation for the insights shared.

“I did not expect such an incredibly informative session! With each slide shared, I gained new insights on Psalm 23 and the parable of the Good Shepherd. The in-depth talk was a truly amazing, awesome, and awe-inspiring awakening for me!” exclaimed Amy Kuan, a parishioner of the Church of St Francis Xavier, Petaling Jaya.

Amy’s feedback echoed the sentiments of the 60 participants, which included cancer survivors, caregivers, and those eager to deepen their understanding of the Good Shepherd through Psalm 23. Martin Jalleh, in his talk entitled “Pressing on in Faith, Fortitude & Freedom with the Good Shepherd,” shared about the meaning of Psalm 23, a psalm often associated with funerals and viewed primarily as a source of comfort for the bereaved.

“Yet, Psalm 23 is more about life rather than death,” Martin explained, quoting a Bible scholar who noted, “There is a comforting promise at the moment of death, but it’s also a brilliant inspiration in the face of life’s troubles.”

Martin emphasised that the powerful image of God as a life-giving shepherd continued with Jesus, but this is often overlooked since the Gospel passage is read mainly on Good Shepherd Sunday, which focuses on priestly and religious vocations. He elaborated on the characteristics of God as the Shepherd in Psalm 23 and the Good Shepherd in John 10:11-15, highlighting the strength and hope offered to those living with cancer, caregivers, and those facing various struggles.

“The Shepherd, which King David describes, and the Good Shepherd Jesus proclaims of Himself are personal, provides immeasurably, is always present, peace-giving, leads the way, protects, prepares a table for us and promises us abundant and eternal life,” Martin shared.

Discussing the Divine Shepherd as a Provider, Martin explained that the Bible verse “I shall not want” can be translated as “I lack nothing” or “I shall not be incomplete, insufficient, or empty,”- a declaration of complete trust. Participants were particularly moved by the idea that the Shepherd not only provides but is accountable for the sheep, highlighting Jesus’ words, “It is the Will of Him who sent me that I should lose nothing of what He has given Me.”

Martin drew attention to Psalm 23:2, emphasising that “He restores my soul” means “He causes my life to return,” “He quickens me,” “He causes me to live,” referring to those who are exhausted and despairing. Participants shared how they could relate to feeling wary, weary, weak, worried, wanting, worn out, wounded, and how God restored life and vigour in them, reigniting new excitement, effort, hope, and joy.

Martin also discussed the concept of “cast sheep” — sheep that accidentally roll onto their backs and cannot regain their footing, likely to die unless the shepherd intervenes. “Many people, having gone through much pain and suffering, find it hard to get back up. They lie ‘helplessly on their back.’ They need the Good Shepherd to restore their footing and give them the peace the world cannot give,” Martin said.

Participants were amazed to learn that the central point of Psalm 23 is “for you are with me” (verse 4). In the original Hebrew, there are 26 words before and after this phrase, a literary device by King David to emphasise God’s saving presence as the focal point of Psalm 23. Another name for the Good Shepherd is “Emmanuel” — “God with us.”

Throughout the talk, Martin presented many other thought-provoking Biblical reflections, offering spiritual encouragement, motivation, solace, and strength to the participants. He concluded with Jesus’ words and an accompanying question: “I am the Good Shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me” (John 10:14). Do I really know the Good Shepherd, as He knows me?

The talk was organised by the Cancer Support Group (CSG) of SIC, in collaboration with the SIC Family-Life Ministry

Total Comments:1

A wonderful and inspiring read for all who have struggles in our daily living. This article increases our faith in knowing what we are not alone but God is accompanying us every step of the way. Thank you for this eye opening article.